Over the past month, we have interviewed multiple dentists and asked them about their thoughts on work and life in the Netherlands. For this interview, we turned the tables, as career consultant Arjen talks about his experience working with dentists from all over Europe.
Arjen has been working with DPA for over 5 years. As a career consultant, it is his job to determine which candidates are suitable to join the DPA dentistry project, and whether DPA is the right party to help them pursue their ambitions.After Arjen obtained his degree in Commercial Economics and gained some work experience, he decided to expand his horizon and go abroad. With a strong interest in learning Spanish, he went to Mexico. After returning to the Netherlands, he signed up for a Spanish course at the University of Amsterdam. “That was one of the best decisions of my life”, says Arjen. “I learned more about Spanish language and culture, and I also met a lot of new people who shared the same interest. One of them was Sebastian Schreijer, who is my colleague now. That is also why I applied for this position at DPA. As an energetic, enthusiastic and happy person, I am always passionate about the things I do. When I believe in something, such as the DPA Dentistry project, I always give 100%.”
Arjen does not know the exact number of dentists he has helped over the years, but he takes a guess: “We already have more than 200 dentists working in the Netherlands through DPA right now. Looking back, I think I recruited about half of them, but I’ve never counted. The reason is that I don’t think it is important whether someone came to the Netherlands through me or one of my colleagues. The DPA project is a full service and I’m just a part of that, now more than ever. When I just started I was the only person doing recruitment, but over the years I was joined by my colleagues Andrea, Dário, Ana and Laura.”
More important than the numbers is that Arjen enjoys helping all those people. “Of course we want to reach targets and all, but the highest priority is that we do everything we can do offer the dentists who work with us a better life here in the Netherlands. For me, part of that is that I fully believe in what we are doing, which helps when I’m talking to candidates about our work. I think it is that enthusiasm and excitement that shows not only that we offer a great service, but also that we take our work seriously. My main goal is to let someone see that their life quality as a dentist in the Netherlands will be better than what they are used to back home.”Of course, no project is perfect, and there are always things that can be improved, or things that you wish could have gone differently. Arjen names a few examples: “On a few occasions a candidate turned out differently than we had expected. This can lead to difficult situations and decisions, especially when problems start arising further on in the process.”
“Sometimes you just have the feeling that a candidate deserves to be part of the project, but at the end of the day you realise that this might make things more difficult, both for that person and for us. Then again, things like this happened maybe twice in all these years, so we have to put things into perspective and accept that these are very rare exceptions.”
In the end, Arjen is proud of what he achieved so far, and he names an example of one of his success stories. “One of the first dentists that I had spoken to had trouble with his English, which was something that could have had a negative impact on his Dutch language learning, because the start of the course takes place in English. Because of this, he decided to first improve his English before joining the project. While learning Dutch was still difficult at first, he eventually got the hang of it. Right now, he is one of the best dentists that we have working in the Netherlands. To me, this example shows that you can still be very successful even if initially you don’t have the perfect profile. Enthusiasm and dedication can get you so far.”
However, Arjen’s favourite success story is that of the Portuguese dentist Joana and her husband Dário. “After I talked with Joana through Skype, Dário still had some questions, so he came along with her to Amsterdam for the final interviews. After these interviews both we and Joana and Dário were eager to co-operate, and both of them entered the project shortly after. Fast forward to today, and Joana works here as a dentist, while Dário works as a recruiter for DPA. I even had the pleasure of attending their wedding, where they told me that moving to the Netherlands was one of the best decisions they had ever made, and that DPA had a big part in that. That is the kind of recognition and appreciation that makes this job so fun to do.”We also asked Arjen what it is that he looks for in a candidate. “First of all, there is no ‘typical’ candidate. Everybody has their own individuality and character, and that is what makes this work all the more interesting. One important aspect, though, is that they have confidence in what we are doing. Opening yourself up to a new culture involves more than learning the language: from time to time, you also have to accept that things are handled differently than in your own country. This is what I always tell my candidates.”
“A good example of this is our contract. In our philosophy, a contract is not the leading aspect of an agreement. This means that, if something is unclear or there is a disagreement about something, we don’t immediately grab the contract and say “well, it says right here that…” Instead, we try to find a solution based on the needs of the candidate and the possibilities that we have as a company. This often leads to a solution that is more satisfactory to both parties, whereas a contract is more like something to fall back on when you cannot reach an agreement. At the same time, I realise that this is not how it works in a lot of other countries, but that is why I always encourage candidates who have questions about our service to contact the dentists we’ve worked with already, as they have experienced our working methods and philosophy first-hand. It’s this trust, transparency and confidence that we also expect to see in our candidates.”
Arjen also talks about what sets DPA apart from its competitors: “What makes us different is that we invest in our dentists. We give guidance during a process that takes 3.5 years, and even after that we’re still in touch with dentists who want this. For instance, if a dentist is not happy with their clinic, we will help them find a new job. We want to make sure that our dentists are happy and comfortable, and we make sure to do everything within our possibilities to make this happen. Over the years, our attitude has become even more pro-active, and we frequently check in with the dentist and the clinic to see how things are going.”There are many possibilities for dentists to lead a happy and comfortable life in the Netherlands, as the quality of life here is one of the highest in the world, for the population in general and dentists in particular. “In addition to receiving a good salary, dentists are respected in the Netherlands. As our dentist Job once told me: Dutch people go to the dentist because they expect an optimal treatment, and they’re willing to pay the price for it. This opens up demand for a wide range of treatments, which in turns allows dentists who work here to master the full spectrum of their expertise. That is what makes the Netherlands one of the best countries to go to if you want to develop yourself as a dentist and enjoy life while you’re doing so.”
If you would like to ask Arjen about your possibilities of working in the Netherlands as a dentist, feel free to contact him.